Select Committee on Education and Skills Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Keith Humphries, Dataplus Computer Services (ILA 34)

  1.  We have been operational for nearly nine years. I am a qualified teacher with over 20 years experience and ran BTEC National Diploma Courses in an FE college.

  2.  We have never been associated with our local colleges but as part of our business we built up a consultancy and repair service alongside our teaching. We also become a branded UK-Online centre. We have fully equipped training premises and although we have never expected to make a fortune we thoroughly enjoy our teaching experiences in our small rural market town. (Once a teacher always . . . )

  3.  We found calling the ILA centre to be really irritating. Anything other than a simple routine question seemed to cause confusion and we quickly adopted the "call three times — get three different answers and pick the most likely one" approach. Now, in retrospect, it seems everybody else was doing the same! We tried several times to get past the call centre operatives to speak to somebody more senior but never managed it. On one occasion we were called back by a "supervisor" but she had no knowledge of our original questions and was in fact trying to answer something we had not asked.

  4.  The call centre staff sounded young, impersonal although not impolite. It just seemed that they did not have a complete grasp of the job they were doing or perhaps just hadn't received adequate training. It was difficult to believe they were our contact into a multi-million pound Government scheme. In the course of our business we had occasion to call many technical support/call centres and in terms of "usefulness" the ILA centre had to be right at the bottom of the list. We called often about a range of topics but nearly always found it a frustrating experience — on one day when calling to complain about the slowness of the web site and the fact we could not register students we were told by different people:

    (1) Yes we know—no further comment made.

    (2)  Have you tried in the small hours of the morning when its less busy!!!!

    (3)  Well if you don't do it by 9.00pm you'll have to wait till next week.

    (4)  I'll report it.

  5.  Not really the responses you would expect from a Government flagship scheme.

  6.  We discovered from one of our clients that her son had innocently been selling ILA's on the streets of Bristol expecting to be paid £10 for every person he got signed up. He was never paid. He was obviously annoyed at having been duped so with permission we reported the matter to the ILA centre. We were told that somebody would ring us back but they never did. So many of us seem to have had the same kind of experiences!

Keith Humphries

7 February 2002

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